child(ren). This left-behind parent passionately argued the case for after-care support for the returning parent and child. One left-behind mother described the attitude as “the kids are back, that the end of it”. She reiterated the view expressed by so many parents that the return is, in fact, the start of the trauma but said that few people recognise that. She insists that you need as much energy when the children are returned as you did when you were looking for them. She points out that you may have forgotten how to “mother” the children if they have been away for a long time. The children may also compare your care to that they have received while away and that this may be very undermining and cause resentment in the parent-child relationship. Some argued that the need for professional support should be recognised and put in place by the returning Court and one mother felt that experience-sharing sessions for parents of abducted children would be beneficial and could form part of the crucially important prevention work undertaken by reunite. This view was echoed many times by other interviewed parents, some of whom felt that the experience-sharing sessions should be extended to the children involved who, it was felt, would avail themselves of such a facility if it were readily accessible. One of the adults abducted as a child supported this view by explaining how much guilt she had carried with her for the abduction and how important it would have been for her if support had been available immediately after the abduction. She stated her view of the importance of this research and what it meant to her “that someone wants to know what happened”. 47
An extremely important issue was raised by several left-behind fathers who discussed the need to do more relating to the prevention of abduction. They question the assumption that following the break-down of a relationship, international (and often inter-continental) relocation of a child is practically inevitable where one parent wishes to return to her country of
47 Greif and Bowers, Legacy, supra, gathered data from 5 adults who attended a 2-day focus group convened at the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children in November 2005. The authors state that this focus group was the first opportunity the participants had ever had to tell their story to others with experiences so similar to theirs and that the experience of being a member of a group enabled them to describe their feelings and thoughts they had rarely or never shared with others.